A typical French scene in this Provençal town, especially intriguing since there is a sunny background with a rain-soaked street as a foreground. There is a wide range of tonal values in this painting. Also interesting to notice is that the soft, receding background is composed of warm tones whereas the closer areas are all cool blues and grays. Quite the opposite of what supposedly works in painting: Cool colors recede and warm colors come forward.
I think this scene still works, even though I have broken the rules…
It’s all about braking rules!
Rainy scenes with wet roads are probably where watercolor is at its best. The effect is easily accomplished by pre-wetting the area and dropping in pigment with the easel at the high angle—almost vertical—wet-on-wet.
There is just a suggestion of distant buildings and the tower with a fairly strong tonal foreground. Although the focal point is undoubtedly the person with the umbrella, I tried to keep him or her diffuse with no harsh edges, therefore blending into the scene.
There is no Chinese white or gouache here; all the highlights are the white of the paper. The only body color I used was for the reflection of the car’s taillights; everything else is transparent, which gives it that glow that can only be achieved with the watercolor medium. There is nothing wrong with using opaque color, I just prefer to keep it transparent as much as I can. In my work I always strive to catch the way a place felt at the time I was there.
Details are not so important; shape and tone is.
Happy New Year!